As 2018 comes to a close, industry companies and associations continue working to close labor gaps—some through apprenticeship- and internship-based events and programs. In the last few months, those efforts have been footed by groups like WorkingNation, the Associated General Contractors (AGC), The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Home Builders Institute (HBI). Just weeks ago, a National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) was formed around the concept.

Celebrated from November 12-18, NAW was a “week-long event that highlighted the benefits of apprenticeship in preparing a highly-skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across diverse industries,” the event’s website suggests. Meanwhile, several fenestration companies have formed their own programs to create more sustainable work forces—including Bayport, Minn.-based Andersen Corp.

“The Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship program is a one-year program in which we teach and train the skills necessary to transition into an entry-level maintenance technician position,” says Aliki Vrohidis, Andersen’s public relations specialist. “The program was designed for one apprentice at a time to maximize success for both leaders and apprentice.”

According to Vrohidis, Dubuque is facing an unemployment rate of 2.3 percent. More specifically, it is facing a shortage of skilled manufacturing laborers. With the town being home to many manufacturing companies, initiatives like Andersen’s apprenticeship program are vital to replenishing retired workers’ positions, and for allowing company growth.

“Our goal was to create a program that not only enabled Andersen to fill open positions, but also gave back to the community and individuals by teaching the skills necessary to be in a maintenance technician position and set them up for success,” says Vrohidis. “Our Dubuque team worked with Northeast Iowa Community College to create an apprenticeship program, conduct interviews and select the first candidate for the program.”

Andersen’s first apprentice began on February 1, 2018.

“The apprentice follows a curriculum and shift rotation to familiarize and learn various job types and tasks with the goal to move the candidate to an entry level maintenance technician position,” says Vrohidis.

Like apprenticeships, internships offer vital experience for students who may be looking to join the industry. Milgard Windows and Doors, headquartered in Tacoma, Wash., for instance, offers a summer internship program for college students, to help them apply what they’ve learned in a professional setting.

“We look for individuals who are currently pursuing a degree and will be entering their junior or senior year in fall 2019,” says Jennifer Reed, talent acquisition specialist at Milgard. “This full-time internship begins in June, based on candidate availability, and extends through late summer.”

The program gives students an opportunity to not only learn about the industry, but experience it first-hand.

“Beyond on-the-job experience, we arrange for plant tours, lunch and learns with managers from different departments sharing their expertise, insights from Milgard recruiters and end with a team building capstone event,” says Reed.

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